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Bota Box rose and the pink wine revolution

bota box roseWhy does the maker of the $5 Bota Box understand rose while so many others don’t?

The Bota Box rose, which costs the equivalent of $5 a bottle, is as good a cheap rose as there is on the market. How is this possible, given all the evidence that no one wants to buy $5 wine any more, as well as the fact that so much $5 wine is so terrible? And that so much rose, whether from Big Wine or “artisan” producers and targeted at the rose boom, is overpriced, not well made, or not especially rose-like?

Somehow, Delicato, the Big Wine house behind the Bota box rose ($18 for a 3-liter box, sample, 11.5%) has created a cheap dry rose that is exactly that. It’s light, crisp, and refreshing, with watermelon and strawberry fruit. Yes, it’s a little thin in the back and there’s an almost bitter tannic thing lurking in the finish, but neither of those should stop anyone from drinking it. Buy it, chill it in the refrigerator, and enjoy it.

In this, the Bota Box rose is so much better than I thought it would that I’m embarrassed to admit it. I didn’t expect it to be dry, and it was, as dry as any high-end Provencal pink. I didn’t expect it to taste like rose, and it did – even more than those pricey California roses made to taste like red wine, with tannins and 14.5 percent alcohol. I didn’t expect to like it, and I really did – so much that the more I drank, the more I started thinking about it as a Hall of Fame wine.

So what does Delicato understand that so many others don’t?

• There is still a market for quality cheap wine, and that premiumization is a much more sophisticated concept than most producers are willing to admit – or even understand. I’m convinced premiumization may not be as much about price as it is about quality, where consumers want better wine and not just more expensive wine.

• Big Wine is putting more effort into boxed wine, where it sees an opportunity to use its trademark cheap grapes even more efficiently. The Bota Box rose is made with zinfandel, petite sirah, and what Delicato calls floral varietals, so white grapes. That’s hardly a classic combination, and I don’t think I want to know the winemaking that went on to make it taste like rose. But it works.

• Someone at Delicato, at least for this vintage, cares about rose. The company could have made a less sweet white zinfandel knockoff, and who would have have noticed? Hopefully, that approach will continue next vintage.

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7 thoughts on “Bota Box rose and the pink wine revolution

  • By Mike - Reply

    It’s such a sham that Delicato has used California grapes for years to establish and build the brand.
    Now for most of their varietals they fill the BotaBox by importing wine from Chile. No wonder the cost is what it is. I wish they’d go back to using USA fruit … nothing like capitalizing on those that don’t take the time to read the label to see that they’ve switched to cheaper fruit to fill the box to make more money … really sad to see them bend over to make an extra buck

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      Mike, the rose is California..

      • By John S - Reply

        2017 Bota Box rose will be Chilean appellation. Had the black box rose and it tasted like latex gloves and smelled like new shoes. It was pretty grose to say the least. Can’t imagine bota box being any better since big wine can’t make a decent wine. Kinda sad you promote so much “BIG” wine….

        • By Chris Indelicato - Reply

          John S, the 2017 Bota Box Rose’ will be California.

  • By Blake Gray - Reply

    At that price point, people really ought to be buying more box wines. The last time I did a big box wine tasting I thought they compared very favorably to wines of similar by-the-ounce cost in bottles. This makes sense: cheaper wines require a higher percentage of the cost of production spent on packaging. Boxes are more efficient.

  • By Mark Ferguson - Reply

    I guess this might be kinda cool if you don’t mind sloppy seconds.
    Black Box has been producing a high quality, dry rose for almost a year now.
    But, hey, it’s still cool to be a follower…I guess.
    Always imitated…never duplicated.

  • By Chris Indelicato - Reply

    Dear Wine Curmudgeon, thanks for the shout out about our Rosé. We try really hard to make sure all the varieties deliver a nice glass of wine. I agree premiumization is more about wine quality than just price. We have been exporting Rosé for a number years and learned a lot during that time. Good Rosé calls for mature fruit instead of over-cropped grapes that can’t make red wine.

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